Wednesday, May 19, 2010

June Election: Referendum questions

Published in the Portland Phoenix

All Maine voters — whether you are registered as a member of a particular party or not — get to vote on five questions on June 8.

First is a PEOPLE’S VETO, repealing a law that would give Maine a flat 6.5-percent income-tax rate (changing from a graduated rate with the highest bracket at 8.5 percent for people with income over $16,700) and make up the money lost by expanding the sales tax to a wide range of services including auto repair, tickets to movies and performing-arts events, sightseeing tours, pet-care services, bar cover charges (for live-music venues), and admission to amusement parks. A “Yes” vote is for repeal; a “No” vote supports the new law.

Second is a $26.5 MILLION BOND FOR “ENERGY INDEPENDENCE,” giving $11 million to off-shore wind development (which will also draw $24.5 million in federal and other funds) and $15.5 million to energy-efficiency improvements at the University of Maine, community colleges, and Maine Maritime Academy.

Question 3 is a $47.8 MILLION TRANSPORTATION BOND to spend $24.8 million to improve highways, $16 million for railroads (plus designating an additional $4 million from last November’s transportation bond for railroads), and $6.5 million for a deep-water pier at Portland’s Ocean Gateway terminal.

Question 4 is a $23.8 MILLION ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT BOND including $8 million for redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, $11 million for various business-grant programs, and $1.25 million for purchasing historic properties for preservation.

Question 5 is a $10.3 MILLION WATER-QUALITY BOND supporting improving water supplies for drinking and for agriculture, as well as improving household and municipal wastewater treatment systems. If approved, this bond will draw as much as $33.3 million in federal and other funds to augment these projects.